Entrepreneurs are getting smarter and becoming more aware. They are beginning to understand the difference between a large number of followers on social media versus a large email list of people who are not engaged.
You can have a million social media followers but if they are not interested in what you have to sell, it means nothing. The same is true with large email lists.
The frustration, overwhelm, and stress that comes with constantly trying to get followers as well as sales can make you feel like giving up. Then you're left wondering what you're doing wrong and why it isn’t working for you when it seems to be working for everyone else.
The key to making sales is attracting the people who have the problem or desire that your product or service can help them with. You want to create your community made up of your ideal clients. Then when you make a sales offer, they are excited to buy.
Creating a community of ideal clients takes a good strategy and time, much like farming. First you have to plant the seeds then water and fertilize them. They sprout, and with loving care, grow into healthy plants with strong roots. Your content works just the same. Compelling content raises up great followers who are eager to pull out their wallet each time you offer them something new.
Like farming, growing a loyal following is part tried-and-true practices and part artful experience with the unique soil you grow in. It takes a balance of sharing your expertise and personal experiences.
Here are some great tips for growing a loyal following:
Give things away- In a world where everyone is selling, give things away. Comedian Michael Jr. gave a Ted talk where he shared the value in giving a laugh rather than getting a laugh. Getting a laugh was focused on getting something from the audience, whereas giving them a laugh focused on giving something to the audience. When his intention shifted, his comedy… and his following… improved.
Ask questions- Building a community is a two-way street. No one wants to be doing all the listening. You may be the smartest person in the group, but you still have a thing or two to learn from them. Between asking questions and engaging with your followers, having a back-and-forth is a wonderful way to grow your following. People love feeling connected and having direct access to people they admire.
Be seen and heard- Being active with your community is more than putting out regular content. It’s important to be seen and heard routinely through different mediums. Make sure you are connecting with them in more than one way. In addition to your emails, consider a Facebook business page or group, being active on Instagram, or engaging on LinkedIn. Using more than one platform to reach your followers increases the know, like, and trust factor - which creates a loyal following. One caveat, however, is to be selective on which platforms you want to use. You’ll want to make you are where your ideal clients hang out, not just where you want to be.
Be authentic without being creepy- Being open and honest or “transparent” is the new form of customer service. In a world of automation, the people who seem real and accessible tend to have growing followings. If you struggle with how to be authentic without being creepy, read my blog on Being Authentic Without Oversharing on Social Media.
Be available- If you are trying to grow a following, you’ve got to be available to your people. If you owned a brick and mortar business, you couldn’t run to the back room each time a customer walked through the door. Failing to acknowledge their presence or have a meaningful two-way conversation will likely stop sales. Be available to your clients. Check your emails, your instant messages, and your voicemail. Be there to engage and make yourself available when people reach out. This does not mean being available 24/7, however. I imagine you didn't start a business just so you can be attached to your phone or computer more. You can check in 4 – 5 times a day for 10 minutes and interact with them online and that would do the trick.
Be predictable with an edge of the unexpected- The most successful parents and leaders are predictable with an edge of the unexpected. People like what they can rely on. Be consistent with the quality and quantity that you engage your audience with. Don’t fall off the radar only to reemerge randomly here and there. Growing a loyal following comes from being reliable, fun, and engaging.
Like farming, growing a loyal following takes time and intention. Your personality, content, and engagement will help the right people come to know about you, learn to love you, and be eager to buy what you have to sell.